April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God's Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring's (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women's Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
As I sit here at my computer, I wonder about you on the other side of the cyberspace screen. What hinders you? What tempts you to grow weary or lose heart? I know what it is for me! And I know how easy it is to slip off the race track for a breather, then maybe climb into the audience stands and grab a hot dog... then sit and watch everyone else; after all they do a much better job at this running business than me!
The hard part about running in this life is how easy it is to get tangled and distracted, tangled and tired, tangled and discouraged.
I know women who are wearied by the foggy path they must navigate with their special needs child; not knowing where they are headed or when they will find a place that feels safe and good for their little one. I know families that are completely wrapped up in the constant harangue of financial troubles. I know families that have had the very breath kicked out them as Mom or Dad walked out the door. How in the world are we supposed to run the race, when life barely lets us catch our breath, let alone run, full stride?
The other day, my husband prayed that God would ready us for Him - whether for His coming for all of us, or just us as individuals. It was a good reminder for me. As I thought about my life, I lamented my many weaknesses that I so deeply wished to have grown-up more in before I met Jesus face to face. As far as I know there’s still “time,” but none of us really knows where the finish line on our race is. I began thinking afresh about how I want to arrive at that finish line - desperate for God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice, but faithful. I would wish to be found faithful to have offered up my whole heart. I let things entangle and discourage me too much still. You too?
This verse is one of those great encouragement verses, but the one facet of truth from this verse I want to focus on is the phrase “fixing out eyes on Jesus, the pioneer (or author) and perfecter of (our) faith.”
The amazing thing about this whole faith “run” is that the part we are responsible for is our focus (and even that God is willing to help us with!). We just have to focus our hearts and lives on Christ, it is Him who does the rest of the hard stuff!
Jesus is the One who set out before us:
The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf... Deuteronomy 1:30 NAS
There is no part of this race He hasn’t already run and there is no part of it you will run alone!
He is the One who accomplishes and finishes the good work:
The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Psalm 138:8 NASU For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:5-7 NAS
You see, that cloud of witnesses didn’t run the race of faith so well because they were particularly “good” or gifted or special. But because they cemented their focus on Christ. It is He who calls us and completes us. There’s nothing we can do to add to His handiwork, except offer a heart that is faithfully fixed on Him. If life is threatening to tangle you in sin or discouragement, take a moment to realign your focus. Your faithfulness will be met with His.
I am praying for an extra dose of grace to propel your "running" today!
Last week's freebie winner is: Betina from Hemet, CA
This week's summer give-away:
We are giving away a His & Hers Audio set with a collection of messages from April for the Hers out there and a message series from Eric for the Hims :)
Here's how to enter:
1. Like/follow Motl Ministries on facebook or twitter (if you haven't already)
2. Then leave a comment or share the link from fb/twitter to be entered! We'll be able to see your comment or share.
3. For some of you who don't use facebook or twitter, you can send us an email stating that you'd like to be entered in the give-away.
4. Drawings are open from Friday to Thursday of the next week. Then each Friday we will announce the winner of last week's drawing and the new give-away. Entries are shuffled and the winner is selected randomly.